About a year and a half ago, we reported a number of arrests involving students at the Bronx High School of Science (Hazing Charges at Prestigious New York High School). The criminal charges involved assault, hazing, forcible touching and harassment by members of the school’s track team. When we reported the incident, you might have been thinking that it was an aberration, something that did not reflect practices in other places, or on other sports teams. And anyway, you might have thought, the charges, while criminal, weren’t really all that bad. But it’s beginning to look, at this point, that this would have been a bit of wishful thinking.
Last week, similar charges were reported against members of the Sayreville (New Jersey) High School football team. The first inkling of a problem was the cancellation by the school superintendent of the remainder of the school’s football schedule. And then the bombshell – an announcement by the local police department that six members of the football team, all juveniles, had been arrested, and that police were looking for a seventh suspect. The charges ranged from aggravated assault, to aggravated sexual assault, to criminal restraint, to conspiracy. And the specifics of the charges were extremely disturbing. The term “hazing” doesn’t begin to convey what the actual charges are. We will spare our readers the details, but they include words such as “penetration”, and include what has been described as the some of the younger players being brutalized by others. “Boys will be boys” does not quite capture, or explain, what supposedly happened here.
We understand, of course, that what we have seen are reports of charges. No one has been convicted of anything, and we do not even have any reports of any admissions by the alleged wrongdoers. What we expect, though, is that this type of behavior occurs in many other school around the country. We just hear less about it than we might otherwise because the victims fear retaliation.
Whatever the scope of the problem may be, actions like those alleged in Sayreville (or in the Bronx, for that matter), do not occur in a vacuum. They require participants who are more than willing to commit these acts against those who are weaker than they are, and a local culture that condones it.
George Vomvolakis Law Offices
275 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10016